Cashman: Criticism of A.J. is “well overblown”
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman launched into an impassioned defense of A.J. Burnett this afternoon during batting practice at Yankee Stadium, and while Cashman says no decision on the six-man rotation has been made yet, it sounds like the Yankees are leaning toward keeping Burnett in the rotation.
That could be bad news for Phil Hughes, who starts Saturday but has no guarantees beyond that. He might be headed for the bullpen or for Triple-A.
“The stuff on A.J. is well overblown,” Cashman said. “A.J. Has been solid for us this year. I just think the way it’s playing doesn’t necessarily reflect the way he’s pitched. Let’s put it that way. The public outcry recently is all emotion rather than actual.”
Cashman was then asked what, exactly, is overblown considering Burnett hasn’t won since June 29.
“If you peel the onion, if he hasn’t won in two months, look at his starts,” he replied. “He’s got one of the least amounts of run support. If you break down his start by start scenario and you look at those starts, it’s not bad.
“I encourage everyone to actually peel the onion, take a look, and if you take his last three starts alone – look at the line. You’ve got the White Sox one which was obviously a bad one, and the previous two before that, take a look at it. Is that a cry for pulling someone out of a rotation? Not at all.”
Cashman said that he feels Burnett’s big contract is fueling some of the outrage.
“I think he’s being treated differently because he has money attached,” Cashman said. “So forgive him for saying yes to a contract. If you want to blame somebody for the contract, blame me. But the man can still pitch, the man is a starter, he can still help us significantly. I’d say take the focus on A.J. Burnett off of A.J. Burnett and focus it on me.
“He was a smart enough man to say yes to a contract which was in the competitive free agent mode, but the Braves bid it up with us and it culminated in the contract. Remove the numbers, the perception of him is completely different, and I’m talking about the salary numbers, not the statistical numbers.”